Judicial activism suddenly OK at state Legislature

Our view: GOP practices gross hypocrisy when it fights voters' redistricting wishes
2012-06-09T00:00:00Z Judicial activism suddenly OK at state Legislature Arizona Daily Star
June 09, 2012 12:00 am

The Arizona Legislature wants activist judges to overturn the will of the people.

That's outrageous, as well as a hypocrisy so huge it makes us, well, laugh.

The facts are these: the Republican-controlled Legislature went to court this week to abolish the voter-approved method for redrawing Arizona's congressional districts.

Before 2000, legislators drew the boundaries, often in backrooms with little public scrutiny. Voters finally had enough of self-serving politicians creating the boundaries and implemented a system that put the once-a-decade job in the hands of an Independent Redistricting Commission.

Politicians still have a big voice in the process, mind you. Leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties each choose two commissioners. Those four then select a fifth person, who must be a registered independent, to chair the commission.

There were minor complaints about how the commission did its job in 2001, but the Republicans - who were in charge of the Legislature then, too - didn't go to court to argue that the whole method is unconstitutional.

The party's failure to sue last time gives lie to its argument now. Nothing about the process has changed. If it's unconstitutional now, it's was unconstitutional back in 2001.

The difference is that Republicans were satisfied with the new district lines then, but this time they aren't.

And so the legislators have gone to federal court to argue that the U.S. Constitution gives them - and only them - the power to draw the congressional districts.

Article 1, Section 4, of the Constitution says this: "The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators."

The words "manner of holding elections" is key. Do you interpret that to include how the district boundaries are drawn?

Whatever your answer, it's rich that this legal challenge is being pushed not by average citizens but by the very politicians whose redistricting pens were taken away. Is that respect for the will of the voters?

Finally, there's the hypocrisy of Republicans - who usually spit the phrase "activist judges" as an epithet - running to court to try to get their way.

Our hope is that the court decides House Speaker Andy Tobin & Co. are spitting in the wind.

Arizona Daily Star

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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